‘In the beginning, I had mixed feelings about this new life’, says Denise Holguin, a 32-year-old master’s student from Colombia who recently moved to Groningen. She is in the city to finish her Erasmus Mundus programme in Learning and Teaching of Spanish in Multilingual and International Contexts. She’s also six months pregnant.
Denise says her certainty about becoming a parent is also getting stronger as time goes on. ‘I am sure this is something I want to do. The love for my baby is growing along with my belly.’
Although she and her husband were trying to have a baby, Denise decided to apply for a master’s programme. When she eventually got pregnant, she never really considered the possibility of quitting her studies. She had been awarded a scholarship for a master’s, so stopping was not really an option for her, as she explains.
‘A very nice feeling’
‘The fact that I am pregnant doesn’t mean that I can’t continue with my life. Pregnancy is of course something big and special, but we still have a normal life, and quitting my studies wouldn’t be fair for myself.’
She never felt the morning sickness that many pregnant women feel and was able to continue with her life and her studies as normal. ‘I just need more rest now and time to exercise, to knit and to go to the hospital for testing, and I need to sleep well.’
In fact, Denise thinks that her baby likes the lessons she is attending. ‘I feel him or her moving a lot during my lessons. I am always attending classes with my hands on my belly and feeling my baby moving. It is a very nice feeling.’
‘I felt very vulnerable’
Although her routine has changed little, she abandoned her initial plan to move to Berlin and finish her studies, and moved to Groningen instead per suggestion from her teachers, who told her that the programme would be less intense here.
‘When I arrived here with my husband, I was really depressed and I was crying all the time. I knew I would be alone since he had to go back to Barcelona, and I felt very vulnerable. I didn’t know anyone here. I had to share a place with other people which I wasn’t used to, so the beginning was really tough for me.’
But despite the difficulties, Denise says she got used to her new life in Groningen quickly and managed to overcome all of her fears. Today, she is more optimistic regarding her future and her decision to move to Groningen alone. ‘I think I am more positive in general. It is said that pregnant women are more positive towards life, and I really feel that is true.’
As her pregnancy progresses, her perspective towards life is changing, too. ‘Of course my studies are vital for me, but the perspective is more focused towards my baby at the moment.’
Her attitude towards children and pregnant women has also evolved. Before her pregnancy, they were just normal people to her. ‘But now, I have a special regard towards them. I feel like I can identify with them. I also understand my mom better now and why she worries so much about us. I see my husband not just as my partner but as the father of my baby and an educator who supports me in this whole process.’
Denise already feels like a mom and and finds herself making preparations to welcome the new family member. ‘I have started to sew and knit things. I have made some cloth toys, a quilt, and now I am knitting a blanket. This is something I would never have done before. My life is full of changes.’
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